It’s always so interesting to see a show that not only evokes emotion, but teaches you something new and brings communities together. Partition tells the tale of a young couple –Saim, a young Muslim girl (Mez Galaria) and her Sikh fiancée Ranjit (Darren Kuppan) – on their wedding day, facing this momentous occasion without their families due to their religious differences based on the events that divided India 70 years ago. Originally written as a radio play in collaboration with BBC Radio Leeds (the first collaboration of its kind at the Playhouse) this production is a stripped back, emotive and intense look at the way the events of the past are still affecting the families of today.
In a discussion with the cast, writer Nick Ahad explains his family connection to the Indian culture, and the research that went into creating the show. In one particularly moving moment, we see Ranjit’s grandfather, Rajpal (also played by Kuppan) explaining the way his village was invaded during the partition of India, and how the men of the village were forced to kill their own wives and daughters in order to ‘save them from a fate worse than death’. An already horrific and traumatic scenario, made even more harrowing due to being based on true events and research.
Being an adaptation of a radio play, the set is minimalistic and serves its purpose, leaving everything else to the imagination of the audience as it would if they were simply listening to the original. In order to keep its authenticity, rather than using recorded or live sound within the piece director Stefan Escreet choses to use a live Foley artist, creating the sounds on the stage as they happen. Particularly inventive is the use of some flapping rubber gloves to create the sounds of roosting pigeons, not only bringing to the production some light hearted humour, but also showing the versatility of live sound creation.
This political, historical yet humorous outlook on the partition of India and the way this divide is still present across Muslim and Sikh families today, would not have been possible without its tiny but multitalented cast. A group of only 4 actors playing a plethora of different characters ranging in age and attitude brings to life this beautiful story of love, hate and forgiveness. It may not be a subject taught in history class, but this story is one that everyone should know – and Partition makes that possible in the most influential and heartwarming way. 4/5
Review written by Hazel Hinchcliffe
Partition was shown at the West Yorkshire Playhouse for one night only on 8th September 2017. For information on the production, visit here…